Tag Archives: Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

July 24 2019 – “Professional Bullies” and the Church of England

2000px-Logo_of_the_Church_of_England.svg

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”
~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA Inquiry – July 2018

1. “An ethically challenged Church? Bullying and threats” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

Among the many documents attached to the recent IICSA hearings was an email correspondence dating back to 2015 between a survivors’ group and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I would not have picked up on this exchange but for an alarming article last Friday in the Church of England Newspaper by Sheik Muhammad Al-Husseini.  Al-Husseini has core status in the IICSA hearings and although he is not directly involved in the Anglican side of the hearings, he seems remarkably well-informed about the detail of what is going on in our church.  He has also spoken to several survivors and their lawyers.

The correspondence, to which Al-Husseini refers, mentions that in 2015 one of the things that survivors were complaining about to the Archbishop was the use by some dioceses of a particular company to protect their interests, Luther Pendragon, a specialist in crisis management.  Without knowing anything further about this firm, one is immediately concerned to discover that at least two dioceses are spending considerable sums of money on this kind of advice.  If any institution brings in professional help to protect its interests then it means that this institution has decided that it needs to ‘circle the wagons’ to protect itself against a perceived enemy.  Who is this enemy?  The enemy is evidently none other than the survivors themselves.  These are the same people, whose interests the Archbishop of Canterbury has promised to put right at the centre of the Church’s concerns.

The letter addressed to the Archbishop on the 12 June 2015 claims that ‘scandal management companies like Luther Pendragon Limited  .. are known to have acted to obstruct, apply pressure and threaten survivors, whistleblowers and others who have spoken out about Anglican clergy abuse’.  Even without reading the letter detailing the techniques used by this firm, we seem to be entering a very dark place. A diocese of the Church of England (two are mentioned, London and Winchester) has felt it right to use the services of what can only be described as professional bullies to protect its reputation.  The victims of this bullying are among the most vulnerable group in society – the sexually and spiritually abused.  How can this be ethical, let alone Christian?  One survivor I know was informed that it was normal practice for the Church or its agents to collect personal information about complainants to assist in the potential legal defence processes which might lessen the potential liability of the Church.  A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile.  Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.

Al-Husseini’s article also mentions the fact that the Church of England nationally employs one particularly aggressive law firm to protect its interests.  A particular lawyer in this firm has acquired from survivors the nickname the Pitbull on account of her techniques of intimidation and merciless interrogation of survivors.   The article overall gives us some insight into a thoroughly unpleasant culture.  On the outside there are pleasing soft words, tears of remorse and apology.  Inside we find a ruthless machine full of hard-headed professional reputation people aligned to aggressive lawyers desperate to defend, at all costs, the institution.

It is to be hoped that this inclusion by IICSA of the 2015 document naming, and hopefully shaming, the underhand methods of Luther Pendragon, shows that the Inquiry is fully aware of hypocritical goings-on in the Church.  A further area of injustice remains to be resolved.  This is the way that the Church has tried, through its professionals, to discredit a highly respected international expert on safeguarding, Ian Elliott.  In 2015 Ian produced a comprehensive report about the treatment of one particular survivor, known to IICSA as A4.  In his report which has not been published in full, Ian criticised the advice given to the Church by lawyers and others to withdraw pastoral and other support from A4.  The Church, after initially enthusiastically receiving the report and promising to implement its findings in full, started to draw back from this support.  We do not know of course what was said behind closed doors at meetings of strategists and advisers but evidently senior people desperately wanted to discredit the report’s recommendations.  Within six to nine months it became just another report to be shelved and forgotten.  By that time the bishop who had been asked by the House of Bishops to oversee its implementation, Sarah Mullally, had been promoted from Crediton to London.  Here her new responsibilities made the task of overseeing the implementation of the Elliott report impossible to fulfil.  The criticism that Elliott had made in his report about the withdrawal of pastoral care for A4 was not picked up by the Church or responded to.  Nevertheless, there were enough denials and rumours around to suggest that this was not a true record of what had happened and this allowed the Church to wriggle out of any obligation to implement any part of the report.  No one in the leadership of the Church attacked Elliott, but neither did they, in the end, do anything to support him or put his recommendations into practice.

The doubts which had been cast over the Elliott report were finally confronted as the result of detective work presented to the IICSA enquiry.  Documents were uncovered which showed that there was, as he had claimed, written advice in circulation which gave clear advice to dioceses that A4 and other survivors were to be cut off from all communication with the Church if they made civil claims against it.  This included the withdrawal of pastoral support just as Ian Elliott had accurately reported.  This whole story was explored in the BBC Sunday programme on July 21st.

When we take an overall view of the way the Church has been behaving in regard to the survivors of sexual abuse it is hard not to use a series of adjectives which would include the words murky, disreputable and dishonest.  The gall needed to spend the Churches’ money on a company such as Luther Pendragon, which has made its name on defending tobacco companies and the nuclear waste industry, suggests that there are a considerable number of senior clergy who are in danger of losing their moral compass.

Every time a lie is told to a survivor, or a committee listens to ethically doubtful advice from an expensive lawyer, corruption enters in.  Individuals may have arrived at a meeting decent and honourable.  By the end of a meeting when they may have colluded in a blatant piece of expedient management of a survivor, there has been a slippage into colluding with evil activity.  This makes them participants in the evil themselves.

The saga of Jonathan Fletcher rumbles on.  Many people are asking how an individual with a history of doubtful behaviour and no PTO was able to access many pulpits in Britain and abroad over the past 2 ½ years.  Every such invitation involved another person in authority defying the rules of the Church.   Were these invitations made in conscious defiance of church rules or is it a case of information not being shared?  Then there is the deliberate ‘cleansing’ of mentions of Fletcher on various websites.  Who had the authority to perform such an act?  One author of a piece which had mentioned Fletcher in his original piece, only to see the name disappear, protested to me personally about this underhand and unauthorised editing.  The censorship shows every sign of being coordinated.  Thankfully no one has access to my blog posts so that my, no doubt provocative, posts on the topic remain up for anyone to read.

The Church at the institutional level and through its non-official manifestations seems to be going through a crisis of morality.  In spite of thousands of sermons preached each Sunday, the response to abuse survivors is apparently sometimes mired in shady, often shameful activity.  At the heart of this activity, as we have said many times before, is the need to preserve the good name of the structure.  How long will it be before this reputation polishing exercise collapses in total failure and the questionably ethical behaviour of so many church people becomes manifest?  That will be possibly the beginning of the end for our national Church.

COMMENTS

  1. Rowland Wateridge

Quoting what you say about survivors’ pre-existing conditions (if any) “A particularly nasty attack that survivors have had to face is the suggestion that, before their abuse, they were in some way already mentally fragile. Thus, any symptoms of post-traumatic stress they may now be suffering, were already present.”

That goes entirely against the long-standing legal concept that “you take your victim as you find him” (the word ‘victim’ may seem unfortunate in this context) also known as the “Egg-shell Skull Rule . This is a legal principle that the frailty, weakness, sensitivity, or feebleness of a victim cannot be used as a defence to a civil claim by the victim. In other words, put as simply as possible, it doesn’t avail an assailant, an abuser or a negligent car driver that they have injured someone who might be pre-disposed to injury due an existing condition. If someone has brittle bones, the law treats a broken leg as a broken leg regardless of the existing condition.

I’m sure others will have views on the wider topic here.

  1. But if the vicar/Archdeacon/bishop thinks it is a defence, it will work. And the survivor will still recognise they have been reabused. And I’ve been lied to and lied about. Corruption is not an unreasonable word. Brilliant post Stephen.

  1. No vicar, archdeacon or bishop may disregard the law of the land (the ‘Eggshell-skull Rule’ is equally the law in some other jurisdictions), and if they ‘think’ differently, that is immaterial. I have to say there is a question mark in my mind whether the Church itself has adequate legal advice sometimes, or if it is even sought, when matters of this kind arise.

    The point you make really goes to the question of proper and adequate representation and assistance to the survivor. If he or she had automatic access to legal advice, this spurious talk about pre-existing conditions would be knocked on the head very quickly.

    Luther Pendragon are not solicitors, although it is possible that they might have staff lawyers. If so, they, in turn, will know the Eggshell-skull Rule.

2. 02/03/2018 – Church of England faces ‘deep shame’ at child abuse inquiry” – The Guardian – Harriet Sherwood

 

3. 13/07/2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance – The Church of England and the IICSA

Photo John Titchener (left) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]. David Bonehill (right) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019 – Page 29 & 30

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

MS McNEILL: Do you think…A4, as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

MR BONEHILL: No.

MS McNEILL: Finally, I want to read directly…the guiding principles that you told us about last week from Ecclesiastical. The first of those guiding principles is that policyholders…should respond to victims and survivors in such a way that it is not experienced or seen as negative, resistant or unhelpful, because this can create relationship difficulties and may worsen their well-being. Do you think that in managing this entire issue, Ecclesiastical has lived up to that guiding principle?

MR BONEHILL: Could we have done it better? Yes, I accept that point.

MS McNEILL: …as a statement of principle, it is a good one, isn’t it?

MR BONEHILL: Yes, it is. I agree entirely.

MS McNEILL: Do you think that you lived up to that principle?

MR BONEHILL: I think we could have done better 

MS McNEILL: Thank you.

 

Above in summary form by #AnglicanHearing

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A. – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?
A. – The witness acknowledges that they have not

 

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019 – Hattie Williams

 

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

 

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

 

July 13 2019 – “The Matt Ineson Story – Archbishops challenged” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

July 28 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Final Day – July 27 2018

Mr William Chapman, counsel for complainants, victims and survivors represented by Switalskis and also who represents MACSAS:

Page 135-136: “He [George Carey], in the words of Andrew Nunn, did try to sweep it under the carpet. If George Carey thought by doing so he served the reputation of the church, it was a gross misjudgment. The tactics deployed by the church were at the very edge of lawfulness. We heard how Bishop Kemp attempted to compromise Mr Murdock. We heard how several bishops telephoned Ros Hunt to ask her to tell the young men who had made complaints not to speak to the police or the press. We heard how Michael Ball, Bishop of Truro, had been contacting witnesses and, in Mr Murdock’s view, trying to influence them. We do encourage the police to review whether any of these matters, in particular the actions of the bishops who contacted Ros Hunt, disclose offences of perverting the course of justice”

Mrs Kate Wood

Page 89-92

Q. How would you characterise the emails you received from Neil Todd? You received a number I think at this time?

A. I did. He, I think, was surprised this was being raised again. He was very calm about it, I felt. He wanted information, and why wouldn’t he? I wanted to give him as much information as I could, but, for the reasons you have outlined, I had to be a bit careful. I didn’t have any emails from him that showed any great distress at that point. He was obviously anxious, and he wanted information. But he was very calm and composed with his emails. I could tell he was also very angry at the church, and, again, why wouldn’t he be? So I tried to support him through that.

Q. In your witness statement at paragraph 149 you refer to the fact that in his later emails in particular he was clearly angry with the church —

A. Yes.

Q. — and was feeling anxious. You refer to an email — I think the reference is wrong, but the correct reference is ACE001870. This is an email to Jeremy Pryor. Why is it that you have this email, Mrs Wood?

A. I can only think that Jez, Jeremy, copied me in on it, I think.

Q. You think Jeremy copied you in or did Neil Todd copy you in? The reason I say that is in your summary you seem to think that Neil copied you in when he wrote this to Jeremy?

A. I don’t know, sorry.

Q. That’s all right. Don’t worry about that. If we can go down to the fifth paragraph of the long email that begins, “So the difficulty”. I think this is the email you are referring to in your witness statement:

Neil Todd’s Email to Mrs Kate Wood/Jeremy Pryor

“So the difficulty of the black-and-white events of Peter Ball’s behaviour are not in the acts themselves — but the fact that he corrupted my genuine search for something good with acts which were obviously intentional for his own sexual gratification in the guise of a wise teacher nurturing and caring of a young seeker, aspiring to good intentions.

“When he denied his behaviour, this struck at my deepest conscience — it was then that the reality of what I allowed him to do — was not moral. The reality that his behaviour was not for my good or inspirational guidance.

“He only had to admit that what he did — actually occurred — this would then have made some sense to me. If he could admit that lying on top of me naked, his ejaculations, the naked showers under his instruction, the threat of physical beatings was all part of his unique path to spiritual guidance, was normal, then maybe we could have accepted that his intentions were good, just unusual. But his denial of all that occurred resulted in deep disillusionment. I personally felt ashamed for allowing this behaviour to occur, for allowing myself to be so gullible and not question or seek guidance earlier. This could have redirected my path. I could have joined a true community and been guided appropriately. The church should also have showed a greater deal of support but to dismiss me after the incident with no due care, simply resulted in full disillusionment with the institution as a whole. I genuinely felt the church was covering up, but at the worst it affected my personal relationship with God and my genuine search in faith. When Peter accepted a caution, he stated with penitence and sorrow he was accepting the police caution, but, again, the church was saddened by his resignation.

“All I want is the truth to be known without suspicion. I want Peter to admit in black and white that the events that took place did take place — that none of this was my imagination — nor my fault. I want the black-and-white questions to be answered.

“I would also request that the church take responsibility for not acknowledging nor supporting nor investigating my concerns.

“I heard that Peter had a new candidate when I was based in London — I wonder if he too experienced similar behaviour.

“I have survived all this, led a normal life — I changed direction after a few years of rebellion, to say the least, and commenced training as a registered nurse. I have been qualified since 1999 and have been working as director of nursing for indigenous communities in Australia. I have a loving and supportive partner of 18 years and am generally considered normal.

“Unfortunately, I never had counselling to deal with nor work through the emotions that occur after such a personal incident — but, yes, I can accept that Peter Ball’s behaviour has left its mark. I am not a vindictive person — I only wish for an acknowledgement that my experience was a reality and that all Church of England hierarchical parties take a share in the responsibility of their inaction.

“Regards, Neil.”

Closing remarks by Fiona Scolding QC

Page 175-176

Chair and panel, obviously it is not the role of counsel to the inquiry to sum up. I just have a very few brief remarks. I would like to thank everybody — in particular the legal teams and all the witnesses who have attended — for their patience and cooperation. I would also like to thank everyone for the courteous and respectful way in which this hearing has been conducted and in their approach and role towards us as counsel to the inquiry.
Just a few statistics, so that everyone can feel that they have earned their fees: 108,000 pages of documents were received by the inquiry during this investigation, and 53,244 pages were disclosed; 118 witness statements were obtained from 23 97 individuals; we have heard 14 live witnesses and three read witnesses.
Last, but by no means least, we want to hold and remember Neil Todd and his family and hope that they are able to find peace and solace after what must have been a painful reawakening of their memories.
We also wish to thank all the other victims and survivors, whose courage in speaking to us and whose insight, wisdom and understanding is both central and essential to the work of this inquiry. We apologise for any distress and upset that this week may have caused to them. Thank you very much

 

bonehillsmiling-20190712120653085_web

John Titchener (left) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]. David Bonehill (right) – Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG]

InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019 – Page 29 & 30

Q. = Nikiti McNeill [IICSA]
A.1 = John Titchener [Group Compliance Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office]
A.2 = David Bonehill [UK Claims Director for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group]

MS McNEILL: Do you think…A4, as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

MR BONEHILL: No.

MS McNEILL: Finally, I want to read directly…the guiding principles that you told us about last week from Ecclesiastical. The first of those guiding principles is that policyholders…should respond to victims and survivors in such a way that it is not experienced or seen as negative, resistant or unhelpful, because this can create relationship difficulties and may worsen their well-being. Do you think that in managing this entire issue, Ecclesiastical has lived up to that guiding principle?

MR BONEHILL: Could we have done it better? Yes, I accept that point.

MS McNEILL: …as a statement of principle, it is a good one, isn’t it?

MR BONEHILL: Yes, it is. I agree entirely.

MS McNEILL: Do you think that you lived up to that principle?

MR BONEHILL: I think we could have done better 

MS McNEILL: Thank you.

 

Above in summary form by #AnglicanHearing

Q. – Do you think that as the victim, should have had to wait or fight as long as he has in order for this to be clarified on the record?

A. – No
Q. – Ms McNeill reads from the guiding principles of Ecclesiastical, focusing on the fact that treatment of survivors should not be negative or worsen their well being. She asks, in their handling of the A4 issue, does he consider Ecclesiastical to have lived up to these principles?
A. – The witness acknowledges that they have not

 

@InquiryCSA – Friday – 12/07/2019

Mr. Rory Philips QC [Counsel for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office – EIO] 

“Where the Inquiry has not sought a specific answer to criticisms made, then as a matter of basic fairness, it is not possible for you to arrive at a conclusion as to whether these criticisms are well founded….
“Because that would offend the guiding principle if I can use that phrase again, which must inform all of the work of this, as of any inquiry, namely fairness….

“EIO is an insurer. It is a commercial organisation. And perhaps some of the difficulties for claimants here arise because they expect EIO to behave towards them rather more as if it was the church”

 

“IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry” – Church Times – 12/07/2019 – Hattie Williams

 

“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

~ Revd Graham Sawyer – IICSA – July 2018

 

IICSA Anglican Church hearing day 10

Today, the final Friday,  was originally intended to be used only for closing statements from the lawyers representing the various parties. However, it was announced at the end of Thursday that an additional witness would be called first on Friday morning. This turned out to be David Bonehill, Claims Director of EIG and and John Titchener, Group Compliance Director of EIO.

The Church Times has a report of what happened: IICSA reprimands Ecclesiastical over earlier advice to C of E and evidence to Inquiry

Transcript of day 10 hearing.

List of documents adduced on day 10 (but none have as yet been published)

 

July 13 2019 – “The Matt Ineson Story – Archbishops challenged” – ‘Surviving Church’ – Stephen Parsons

“The truths about Matt’s ‘shabby and shambolic’ treatment by the church after his original assault thirty + years ago will probably never be completely known.  What we have seen is at best incompetent treatment but at worst dangerously cruel”
The words of Revd Graham Sawyer are not to be forgotten – said at the IICSA Inquiry last year – July 2018:
“The sex abuse that was perpetrated upon me by Peter Ball pales into insignificance when compared to the entirely cruel and sadistic treatment that has been meted out to me by officials, both lay and ordained. I know from the testimony of other people who have got in touch with me over the last five or 10 years that what I have experienced is not dissimilar to the experience of so many others and I use these words cruel and sadistic because I think that is how they behave. It is an ecclesiastical protection racket and [the attitude is that] anyone who seeks to in any way threaten the reputation of the church as an institution has to be destroyed”

March 22 2018 – An Archbishop on Justice and Presumption of Guilt – Rumpole on Justice and Presumption of Innocence

March 22 2018 – IICSA Transcript – Wednesday March 21

Archbishop Justin Welby

Page 119-120 [Paras 21-25]

and at the heart of this has to be justice, and justice is a very, very difficult thing to find, as you know much better than I do, but we have to have a system that delivers justice. That is so important. And if it doesn’t, it’s not good enough.

Fiona Scolding QC

Page 123 [Paras 14-25] Page 124 [Paras 1-8]

One of the points that Lord Carlile makes is that the church didn’t take a good enough account of…George Bell’s reputation. Now, we have heard from several individuals about their views about that. But what he seems to suggest is, you have to start — you know, this was such a Titanic figure that one must assume that his reputation is unblemished and, therefore, that has to be weighed very heavily in the balance. Do you have any response to that?

Archbishop Justin Welby

I think the greatest tragedy of all these cases is that people have trusted, very often, those who were locally, in diocesan terms, or nationally Titanic figures, and have then found that they were not worthy of their trust. The fact that someone is a titanic figure doesn’t tell you anything at all, except that they have done remarkable things in one area. It doesn’t tell you about the rest of their lives. And it is not something that we can take into account.

March 22 2018 – From The Archives [1988 – “Rumpole of the Bailey” with Leo McKern – Episode: ‘Rumpole and the Age of Miracles’ [Series 5 Disc 2) – Filmed on location at Chichester Cathedral [‘The Diocese of Lawnchester’ – Ecclesiastical Court]

Rumpole: “I happen to have a good deal of faith”

Ballard: “Yes, in what precisely?”

Rumpole: “The health-giving properties of Claret. The presumption of innocence…that golden thread running through British justice”

October 15 2017 – “Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologises to sexual abuse survivor ‘Gilo’ for C of E failings”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/15/archbishop-of-canterbury-justin-welby-apologises-to-sexual-abuse-survivor-gilo-for-c-of-e-failings

Justin Welby apologises to sexual abuse survivor for C of E failings

Archbishop of Canterbury writes personal letter to survivor known as Gilo for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters

Justin Welby
 Justin Welby’s letter of apology came after a mediation session between Gilo and two senior bishops. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has personally apologised to a sexual abuse survivor for his office’s failure to respond to 17 letters seeking help and redress.

Three bishops have also urged the Church of England’s insurance company to review its settlement with the survivor, saying they are “very concerned about the way in which the claim was handled at the time”.

In a letter to the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (EIG), the bishops expressed disquiet that “horse-trading” between lawyers over settlements has had “little concern for the impact” on survivors.

The two letters are the latest developments in a long struggle by Gilo – who is also known as Joe, and whose surname is withheld at his request – to force the C of E to acknowledge both the abuse he experienced as a teenager at the hands of a senior church figure and its failure to respond properly to his disclosures.

Gilo told dozens of C of E figures, including three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop, of his abuse over a period of almost four decades. A highly critical independent report commissioned by the C of E into Gilo’s case said last year that the failure of those in senior positions to record or take action on his disclosures was “deeply disturbing”.

Welby’s letter to Gilo says: “I am writing to say how profoundly sorry I am for all the abuse you have suffered … I am shocked to hear of what has happened to you and the impact over so many years.”

The archbishop wrote that he was aware that Gilo had been “in communication with me here at Lambeth Palace over a period of time. I am sorry that the way your correspondence was handled has not been helpful to you, and has not been to the standard you would expect”.

Gilo received only one response to his letters to Welby, from a correspondence clerk offering prayers.

Welby wrote that he had asked for a review of processes. “There are lessons to learn and I am keen that we learn them and make any changes necessary.”

The archbishop’s letter of apology arose from a mediation session between Gilo and two bishops: Tim Thornton, to whom Gilo says he disclosed details of his abuse in 2003 and who is now bishop at Lambeth; and Paul Butler, the bishop of Durham and the C of E’s lead bishop on safeguarding at the time of the independent review of the case.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the two bishops said they “recognise that the church continues to face serious challenges through its response to survivors” and “these matters need to be faced honestly and squarely”.

Butler and Thornton, along with Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, also wrote to the EIG to raise concerns. They called on the insurance company to revisit cases “where past practice may have reached a settlement that did not truly match the significance of the impact of the abuse”.

They wrote: “In particular we have been very concerned to hear how ‘horse trading’ around the level of settlements has occurred between lawyers with little concern for the impact such an approach has had on the survivor.”

The bishops suggest the EIG should review the settlement it reached with Gilo. He received £35,000 after the church agreed it was at fault, but pastoral care was cut off following the agreement.

The bishops’ letter said they were “very concerned about the way in which [the case] was handled at the time”. The impact of abuse on Gilo “has been lifelong and continues. It has seriously impacted his health and wellbeing. This in turn has affected his work and finances.”

Gilo has repeatedly criticised the C of E’s close relationship with the EIG and the presence of senior clergy on its board of directors. He has claimed the insurers advised the church to cut off emotional and psychological support in a move that “directly conflicted” with the church’s pastoral and compassionate responsibilities.

He told the Guardian: “It’s a courageous and bold move by these bishops to finally grasp a powerful corporate nettle in such a clear way.

“They are right. The settlement process is a degrading, demeaning horse trade in which the insurer holds all the cards, and can effectively hold a gun against the heads of survivors and our own lawyers. It is a skewered and broken system that doesn’t serve justice.

“The church is finally recognising the cost of impact. And cost, too, for many survivors who have campaigned for change against a silent and discrediting church, and both former and current bishops who have covered up. All those survivors, and the ones who’ve fallen away bitter and angry and left unhealed, need recognition of the cost in their lives and real justice.”

In its reply to the bishops’ letter, the EIG said there was no basis to revisit the settlement agreed with Gilo. It had responded to his complaints about EIG’s handling of his case “with patience and sensitivity”, it said.

The company sought to “see all survivors treated with sensitivity, fairness, compassion and respect, and to achieve reconciliation”.

In a statement, the EIG said: “As independent insurers, we are not responsible for the abuse perpetrated by those for whom the church is accountable. Our role is to handle insured claims for financial compensation fairly for these acts of abuse.

“We and other insurers are bound by comprehensive, industry-wide regulation that oversees the way we operate and handle claims, and by the civil justice system.

“It is not in our gift to change civil law, which defines the claims process. Negotiations between lawyers – characterised in the bishops’ letter as ‘horse trading’ – are a normal part of that process. So are full and final settlements, which bring certainty to all parties within the civil justice system.

“It is, however, in the Church of England’s gift to provide further compensation as well as ongoing pastoral care to victims and survivors of clergy abuse if it so wishes.”

 This article was amended on 22 October 2017 because an earlier version said Gilo had disclosed details to Tim Thornton. This has been corrected to say Gilo says he disclosed details to Thornton.

 

November 5 2017 – Unholy Trinity ? Ecclesiastical Insurance Group [EIG] – Allchurches Trust Limited [ATL] – Church of England [CoE]

https://seaofcomplicity.blog/author/seaofcomplicity/

Opening comment from Ian Elliott

I welcome the release of this blog and hope that it will stimulate comment and discussion on these very serious issues that face the Church of England. There is a great and pressing need for change and it is already overdue.

I had the opportunity to review some of the practice of the Church through a review that I undertook of one survivor’s case, and presented my findings a year ago. Those findings are still relevant today.

Over the weekend I read with interest and some degree of sadness, the report and recommendations completed by Dame Moira Gibb and her team. Her analysis is revealing but I feel that the recommendations fail to address one critical problem that I had identified, and that is monitoring a deviant or incompetent bishop who seeks to hide their bad practice. I recommended that there needed to be critical, independent oversight and scrutiny of the safeguarding work undertaken in dioceses. Sadly, I note that this recommendation is not repeated by Dame Moira. History will show which approach is correct.

Ian Elliott,  Safeguarding Consultant

www.ianelliottsafeguarding.com

CofE & Insurance affiliation

This first article, about deep-rooted affiliation between the Church of England and its insurer, will hopefully provide a better understanding of CofE response to CSA survivors.

Some background history. Ecclesiastical Insurance was created in 1887 by the CofE to provide for its own insurance needs. Self-insurance was common among religious institutions at that time. The Methodists were first, creating their own insurance company 15 years earlier. It made economic sense – money went out from individual churches and returned to the central coffers to support the work of the Church.

For nearly a century Ecclesiastical was fully owned by the CofE. Then in 1972 the Church created Allchurches Trust Ltd to take on legal ownership of the insurer. The signatories of incorporation included both Archbishops at the time, Michael Ramsey (Canterbury) and Donald Coggan (York), plus the Dean of St Pauls, Archdeacon of Lincoln, and Secretary General of Synod and other CofE figures. Both archbishops used Latin place names (Cantuar and Ebor), a legal entitlement permitted to bishops. They were clearly acting as senior officers of the Church, and the Trust was perceived as a CofE body. The Trust has recently wanted to distant itself from this on Wikipedia.

In the decades that followed, Ecclesiastical gradually acquired several other companies to become Ecclesiastical Insurance Group (or EIG). They own Ansvar, one of the main insurer of UK charities, and Lycetts, a major equine and farm/estate insurance provider, amongst others. The group involves several layers of ownership with some subsidiary companies owning smaller subsidiaries. But the whole group is owned by Allchurches Trust Ltd (or ATL), and run as a charitable enterprise. Profit from EIG goes to ATL which distributes grants to churches & charities around UK and elsewhere.

Ecclesiastical also created an investment management firm in 1987 to provide investment products for clergy and dioceses. Originally called Ecclesiastical Investment, it was rebranded in 2015 to EdenTree as ‘Ecclesiastical’ was considered off-putting for an investment house seeking to widen its client base beyond the church. EdenTree is also fully owned by ATL and gives profit to the motherlode.

This short film celebrating EIG’s recent £50million donation to ATL within 3 years, shows the various components. And demonstrates the close affiliation to the Church of England.

Emphasis is on the many small charities the insurer supports, and it seems on the surface a ‘virtuous circle’ that Sir Philip Mawer (ATL Chair) describes. Indeed many small charities benefit from this enterprise.  But there is something missing from the picture….

What EIG and its owner ATL are less keen to draw attention to in this film, is the funding priority to support CofE Dioceses through ‘block grants’. Their annual reports and Companies House filing history give a clearer picture. A quick exploration shows that ATL gives between 80 and 90% annually to CofE and Anglican churches. In 2014 the total shared between CofE dioceses, cathedrals, churches and other Anglican churches was 92% of that year’s grants. So as a circle, it’s not hugely different from the good old days when Ecclesiastical was outright owned by the Church and ran as a financial loop.

To recap, a simple diagram of the flow of money might look like this: Follow the Money

Senior Clerics on EIG board of directors

The Church, EIG and ATL have all claimed the “church is simply another client” and that the insurer is entirely separate from the CofE. Whilst this may be legally accurate, Companies House records show high-ranking clerics on the board of directors of EIG across the past four decades. Archdeacons, deans and even bishops have been involved in running the insurer. Sir Philip Mawer, former Secretary General of the CofE Synod, has been on the board twice. The first time during his years serving as the church’s most senior civil servant.

It may be coincidental, but during decades of cover-up and suppression of abuse stories, the board has had three and even four senior church figures at a time. For example in 1993 – an archdeacon, two cathedral deans and a bishop – over a third of the board. Currently there is only one senior cleric – but until recently there had always been three or four. That’s considerable institutional heft and influence. It’s not hard to imagine the deference, embedded loyalty, patronage, and shared mutual interest that would have accompanied so much senior church presence. A bishop in any boardroom is likely to receive most deference in the room. A board made up of a third senior clerics cannot in any way be characterized as a “church is simply another client” situation – as one of the bishops and EIG and ATL have tried to claim in emails. The Church needs to be a good deal more honest about this corporate affiliation and the flow of money.

This powerful nexus throws up many ethical questions. I have tried to engage both church and insurer with a range of conflict-of-interest questions for nearly two years. But there has been little will to address them. The Church’s senior caseworker treated the questions with hostility and boredom during a mismanaged meeting last year. When raised with the National Advisor and current Lead Safeguarding Bishop, the questions have drawn a blank. When raised with two trustees of ATL last year after the Elliott Review, an irritated retort from one senior cleric was “We don’t own our own insurer”. This senior cleric sits on the board of Trustees that owns the insurer, and also on the Archbishops’ Independent Safeguarding Panel. If that’s not a conflict of interest – I don’t know what is. It’s not surprising that many survivors feel the CofE National Safeguarding is in place to safeguard institution and hierarchy! And EIG’s compliance director has treated me in phone conversations as an idiot who knows nothing about the world of corporate affairs. Most people don’t need a degree in ‘corporate’ to recognise moral affiliation … and the moral responsibility that should accompany it.

The two may be legally separate. But in terms that the general public would understand, the church and its insurer are morally and institutionally joined at the hip. These two corporate cultures have clearly shaped and reinforced each other over the decades. It’s a strange picture when put alongside the silencing and cover ups so many survivors have experienced. Would it be likely that senior figures in Ecclesiastical have been club-able with other bishops who’ve covered up abuse in the past? If any of these figures were approached by survivors in their dioceses – would they have informed them as part of their pastoral response of the potential conflict of interest? Have these senior clerics been advised to quietly encourage the structure to turn a blind institutional eye? Cover-up seems almost to have been a requirement for the job in past bishops! And ultimately, to whom have these clerics owed alleigance? The Church and its stated pastoral aims, or does fiduciary responsibility to the insurer claim priority? These are just some of the questions raised by this interwoven nexus. But cognitive dissonance and denial in CofE culture prevents senior figures or a too deferential Safeguarding from engaging with them.

Together with a whistle-blown House of Bishops document published last year, the image is of a church that pretends a ‘robust’ response whilst consciously operating a mirage. Instructions from the CofE’s legal head advised diocesan bishops to use “careful drafting” to “effectively apologise” without enabling victims to get compensation. The Church and insurer have in effect ran an ‘affiliated corporate hand-wash’ with both parts washing hands of responsibility for actions of the other. They maintain the pretence of seperation. The Church wants to quietly have its cake and eat it.

“Because of the possibility that statements of regret might have the unintended effect of accepting legal liability for the abuse it is important that they are approved in advance by lawyers, as well as by diocesan communications officers (and, if relevant, insurers).

“With careful drafting it should be possible to express them in terms which effectively apologise for what has happened whilst at the same time avoiding any concession of legal liability for it.”

excerpts from House of Bishops document

Not one bishop commented on this document when it emerged last year. A nameless ‘spokesperson’ issued a three line defence. This corporate strategy bats any further questions away. Yet the policy and culture hidden in that document since 2007, involved all of the senior layer, and ran counter to the Church’s stated aims in Responding Well. This was a moment when bishops might have taken ownership of the deceptive mirage played out on survivors. Instead the article came out to a backdrop of silence as bishops ran to ground. Survivors see again and again this running to ground by the Church which only seems to respond when embarrassment is sufficiently acute. One wonders whether any of the bishops stood up, when the advice was issued by their senior lawyer, to say “Not my role to be an adjunct to an insurer – my role is to be a pastor and help heal survivors, not hoodwink them.” Perhaps some did say something like this privately. They didn’t have enough moxie to speak out.

The document matched the blanking and silencing of major questions by senior bishops leading up to the Elliott Review. Ultimately 17 letters to Archbishop Welby were ignored on the advice of the insurers and laywers acting on their behalf. Finally after an 18 month wait and colossal effort, two bishops – Bishop of Durham and Bishop of Truro – are due to come to a mediation to account for the blanking of these questions and give personal apology. To my mind it is the insurers who have most dug these bishops into such an uncomfortable and embarrassing position. That and a culture of denial and fear in the senior layer. And poor theology.

MACSAS tell me many survivors could match this document to their own experience of the Church’s response. It ticks too many boxes. Perhaps in time when attitudes change across the top, mediation will be a way forward where bishops have responded to survivors dishonourably or without healing in mind. Many current senior figures face difficulty, with a significant portion of senior bishops having faced recent CDM’s (Clergy Disciplinary Measure proceeedings) including Archbishop Sentamu, Bishop Paul Butler, Bishop Steven Croft, Bishop Martyn Snow and others. Eventually the Church will put its hands up properly and start being transparent.

Let’s look at a specific story of church/insurer contamination

Sent by Teresa Cooper as part of a joint press release with Joe

Teresa Cooper who has spent thirty years campaigning for truth and justice for Kendall House is seeking explanation and profound apology from the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, for his handling of her case in 2007. Teresa was summoned to a meeting to give account of her abuse and found herself meeting three men on her own. One was the bishop; another was Canon David Grimwood from Church in Society which had jurisdiction over Kendall House. The third man was from Ecclesiastical. Teresa says “The Bishop of Rochester proceeded to discredit and undermine my story directly in front of the insurer. In effect, he called me a liar and said there were no drugs used at Kendall House, which was astonishing”. It was later reported by the BBC that Rev David Grimwood removed critical files which later provided clear evidence of what took place at the Church of England home. Teresa also has clear evidence in a private email sent between Kent County Council and this senior priest that lawyers acting for the insurer instructed him and the diocese to withhold critical documents from her. This later affected the outcome of her case in 2010. The three men at that meeting all knew that Teresa was seeking access to these files to show evidence of the allegations. It took another nine years before a full inquiry into Kendall House took place. Teresa now insists on a public statement of apology from Bishop Nazir-Ali and proper acknowledgement from the church of decades of cover-up. She has received what she considers to be a “pretence of justice”. Teresa says, “I deal daily not only with serious health conditions, but also live with the reality that my children were born with birth defects as result of the chemical experimentation I was subjected to as a teenager.” Teresa goes on to say, “the church and their insurer worked together to suppress the truth and discredit the facts – this is undeniable. It is a shocking part of my story that the church does not want to acknowledge! Bishop Nazir-Ali couldn’t even be bothered to tell the new bishop about the Kendall House situation.” She is seeking a meeting and apology from Archbishop Welby in recognition of the layers of cover-up and all the profound impact on her life and continuing health struggle she undoubtedly faces. She hopes to explore mediation with the Church so they can help her move forward with the rest of her life. The CofE has so far refused her any help and therapy.

This story powerfully illustrates the nexus of church and insurer working in tandem. It looks more than a little cosy. It looks frankly corrupt. There’s an overwhelming case for justice and it’s time the CofE stopped washing its hands – and gave Teresa real justice.

Headmasters on EIG board of directors

In addition to senior CofE figures, three headmasters have also been on the board of the insurer. Ecclesiastical’s website states that it insures over 40% of independent schools. These three headmasters, across more than three decades, are listed on Companies House as having been directors (governors) of other prep schools in addition to headship of their own schools. More than half these have had abuse cases and media reports. One example is Caldicott. All three headmasters had governance of this school at different times – a school with a complex abuse history spanning decades and centred around its own headmaster. But many of the other schools too have been subject of abuse allegations:

Abingdon, Ashdown, Ashfold, Cothill Trust, Loretto, Millfield, Mount House, Radley College, Repton, Stoke Brunswick, Summerfields, Wellington College

Does the presence of headmasters, presumably representing the interest of all these schools, on EIG raise similar ethical questions? Have survivors from these schools been informed that heads/governors of their schools were part of the insurer possibly handling claims? Those I’ve asked had no idea and were shocked to discover these potential conflicts of interest. One Caldicott survivor told me that one of these had praised Peter Wright as the “finest prep school headmaster of his generation” at Wright’s retirement speechday. There’s no grounds for suspecting any of the three had prior idea that Wright had been subject of rumours from the late 1960’s onwards and across the decades. But these links between the worlds of private school, church and insurer are bound to raise questions for survivors. Has EIG insured all these schools? I asked a few. They were reluctant to say.

“Virtuous Circle”?

The CofE is making exponentially rising amounts of money from one of the UK’s major insurance businesses. Some dioceses encourage parishes to regard Ecclesiastical as the ‘official insurer’ of the diocese and in effect the only go-to. This is the case in my own diocese. There are currently only two insurance companies for CofE churches to choose from – Ecclesiastical and Trinitas – but Ecclesiastical insures the vast majority. About 95%. This effective monopoly clearly benefits dioceses, by a far mile the major beneficiary of the charitable enterprise. It’s entirely up to the Church of England how it wants to manage part of its corporate affairs. But if that involves a contaminated structure in which survivors are being further harmed – then it needs bringing into daylight.

The contaminated response that Teresa and I have witnessed in different ways in our cases is mirrored elsewhere. Many CofE survivors have been harmed by the Church’s affiliated hand-wash and toxic fusion of pastoral and legal games. The CofE needs to sort out its broken culture, acknowledge the embedded conflict of interest and potential corruption in this nexus. They need to recognise the need for urgent structural change. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation could best be celebrated by having another.

The ‘circle’ will only really recover virtue in the eyes of survivors when the Church creates an authentic redress system. One that is fair, dignified, transparent, and above all focused on healing – to replace the current adversarial rollercoaster the CofE relies on. If the Church wanted, it could almost overnight begin to remove the toxic barriers (blanking, silencing, amnesia, denial, legal games, closing down of cases, fog & obfuscation, complicity, hand-washing, etc) that cause much additional suffering to survivors.

I’m not the first to raise some of these questions – far from it. Bishop Paul Butler and Archbishop Welby buried their heads in the sand for at least five years to repeated challenges from survivors about ‘smoke and mirrors’. When will the Church stop walking behind the crisis of itself – and give shape to a transparent and genuinely healing response to CSA survivors? Will the House of Bishops wake up at this late stage? Perhaps the next generation of bishops will be the ones who redeem the chaos of wounds and bewilderment left behind by the current senior layer.

Comment from Bishop Alan Wilson

Bishop of Buckingham invited us to include this in the press release, and we share it here

“My concern is that although the Church has made some progress with safeguarding over the past few years, there is still a long way to go if it is to become a safe place. Many survivor experiences still fall well short of the good intentions recently expressed towards survivors of John Smyth abuse. There is still no national safeguarding service with the authority to do a proper job. Over-dependence on ecclesiastical lawyers and insurers leads to defensive behaviour, selective memory, and serious pastoral inadequacy. Training is welcome, of course, but of limited usefulness if all people are being trained in is a weak and ineffective system, founded on a culture of excessive deference and secrecy. Payouts that should be the beginning of a pastoral relationship with a healing community are still too often the last word. There is still much bafflement and ignorance within the church about spiritual abuse, and even a refusal in some places to acknowledge let alone take responsibility for what are patently harmful theologies. The senior ties of the church to Ecclesiastical our insurer looks very weird through the eyes of survivors, and this is another area that calls for full disclosure and explanation. All organisations have ground to make up in this area, but I dream of a day the Church of England will stop dragging its feet, be honest, take responsibility, and become a leader in understanding and effective response to and action for those who have been damaged by contact with it.”

Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson